Lockheed completes U-2 Dragon Lady’s first flight with advanced-tech upgrades

Lockheed Martin USAF U-2 Dragon Lady
Lockheed Martin

The high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft Lockheed U-2 (nicknamed U-2 Dragon Lady) has completed its first flight with enhanced capabilities. 

Lockheed Martin, in partnership with the United States Air Force (USAF), announced on September 26, 2023, that the flight was conducted under the Avionics Tech Refresh (ATR) program.   

The new advanced capabilities included an updated avionics suite (communications, navigation, display, etc.) that modernizes the U-2’s onboard systems to readily accept and use new technology. 

A new mission computer designed to the USAF’s open mission systems (OMS) standard that enables the U-2 to integrate with systems across air, space, sea, land and cyber domains at disparate security levels. 

And a new modern cockpit displays to make pilot tasks easier, while enhancing presentation of the data the aircraft collects to enable faster, better-informed decisions. 

During this mission, the aircraft successfully performed a low-altitude functional check flight to integrate new avionics, cabling and software. 

“The successful first flight of the U-2 Avionics Tech Refresh is a significant moment in our journey to rapidly and affordably field new capabilities,” said Sean Thatcher, U-2 Avionics Tech Refresh program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Leveraging the platform’s open architecture, we’re expediting these capabilities needed for the future Joint All-Domain Operations battlespace.” 

The ATR first flight marks a milestone in the U-2’s modernization efforts and its path to be the first fully OMS-compliant fleet. 

The U-2 ATR contract was awarded by the USAF 2020 and valued at $50 million. 

Related Posts


Stay updated on aviation and aerospace - subscribe to our newsletter!